NASA has announced its latest round of grants for small businesses, providing over 300 businesses with a total of $ 51 million in crucial early stage financing. These “Phase I” projects receive up to $ 125,000 to help bring new technologies to market.
Small business innovation / technology transfer research programs help entrepreneurs and inventors move from the laboratory to commercial availability. Money is like a grant, not an investment, and Phase I recipients can benefit from larger Phase II grants if they are guaranteed.
This year’s selections, as always, cover dozens of disciplines and apply to a wide range of sectors. Highlights of NASA in a press release include high-power solar arrays, an intelligent air traffic control system for urban flight, a water purification system for use on the moon and improved lithium-ion batteries.
There is also an award for a company that manufactures “a compact sterilizer for use on spacecraft materials”
Looking at the lists, I was struck by the number of neuromorphic computation efforts, from radiation-hardened chips to software techniques. I take these as chips and approaches that use and accelerate machine learning methods, rather than computer attempts that really employ the spikes and plasticity of real neuronal networks.
2020 Phase II announcements won’t come for a while: NASA just released last month 2019.
The SBIR program is one of the federal government’s inadvertently best kept secrets, with billions allocated to a dozen agencies to distribute to small businesses. You can learn more about SBIR.gov.